If you are like me, you love to grow (and eat) banana peppers. There are many uses for these delicious peppers such as in salads, pizza toppings, spaghetti sauce, and can be used as many other flavorful additions to food. There is much confusion on when is the right time to harvest banana peppers once they begin to grow. It is important to know when and how to properly pick banana peppers.
What To Look For When Picking Banana Peppers
Your banana peppers are setting fruit and growing like crazy, but when are they ripe for picking? The first thing to look for is the size of the banana pepper. It should be 4 – 8 inches long depending on the variety you are growing. The next thing to look for when picking banana peppers is the color. The pepper should turn from green to a bright yellow, to a bright red when ripe.
In the picture above you see a banana pepper plant that is full of peppers. The pepper towards the top, left-hand side is small and still very green. This pepper needs more time to fully ripen. The pepper at the bottom center has proper length and has turned to a bright yellowish tint. This pepper is ready to pick and enjoy! You can also let the banana pepper ripen further until it turns red, but I like my banana peppers when they are yellow.
How To Properly Harvest Your Ripe Banana Peppers
Now that you have found some banana peppers that are ready to pick, let’s look at the best way to pick them from the bush.
First, take one hand and gently move the plant over to one side so that the ripe peppers are exposed. (Be careful though, you don’t want to break the plant or accidentally knock any unripened peppers off!) This makes it easier to see what you are doing without all the leaves in your line of sight.
Once the plant leaves are out of the way, take a pair of sharp scissors or garden shears, and cut the pepper from the bush a 1/4-inch above the pepper. When cutting the pepper, just let it fall to the ground. This makes the picking faster and easier. If you can get someone to catch the peppers as you cut, that’s fine too.
It is important to cut the peppers off the bush rather than just pulling them off. Pulling the peppers off the bush can damage the plant and the peppers. Cutting them off will ensure the pepper plant will continue to thrive.
Continue cutting the ripe peppers off the plants until you have collected all of them. That is it – it is that simple. Remember, picking your banana peppers often will promote more banana peppers to grow.
Now that you have your harvested banana peppers, give them a good rinse, and you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, you can freeze them for later use, or use them immediately for absolute freshness.